Avoiding the Comparison Trap

I’m learning to avoid the comparison trap.

 

I am still adjusting to this stay-at-home-mom gig. This wasn’t part of my plan. Nor was the unexpected illness that put me here. It’s been thirty-four months and eleven days since I was medically forced to walk away from my career as a pharmacist. One would think by now, I would be adjusted to my new role, but I still struggle.

Finding contentment in this new realm is my struggle.

This summer, my neighbor had her backyard excavated to make way for an in-ground pool. Meanwhile, God excavated my heart to make room for contentment.

Per instructions by Priscilla Shirer in her book, The Resolution for Women, I scribed these words on an index card and attached it to the front of my fridge.

In my desire to find contentment, I began with a simple prayer: “Lord whatever my hands find to do today, may you look upon your servant and find me faithful. Amen.” 

Later, I simplified this to a four-sentence prayer: “Lord, find me faithful.”

This prayer is based on these verses in the Old and New Testament:

For the eyes of the Lord range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him.” (2 Chronicles 16:9, NIV)

“Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.” (Colossians 3:23-24, ESV)

When I pray, “Lord find me faithful,” it helps me put on spiritual blinders. Keeping the simple prayer on the forefront of my mind repels my desire for comparison to others. It allows me to remain faithful in my role, where I am, and with what God has provided for me.

The death of contentment is comparison.

Steven Furtick

Pastor , Elevation Church

During God’s summer excavation of my heart, He showed me two passages in the Bible where the main characters felt unequipped and unqualified in their role because they were comparing themselves to those around them.

Gideon the weakest in his clan hid from the enemy. God finds him, calls him a “valiant warrior” and tells him to fight the enemy. “Go in the strength that you have.” (Judges 6:12, 14). Reluctantly obedient, Gideon and his motley crew of a few defeat the enemy in an unexpected way.

In 2 Kings 4:1-7, we meet an unnamed woman who is a recent widow. Left with debts she cannot repay, the debt collectors threatened to take away her two sons. Desperate, she pleads to the prophet Elisha for help. Instead of helping, he asks, “What’s in your house?” She confesses to having only a little oil. Elisha instructs her to gather as many jars as she can from the neighbors. (Can you imagine the humility of having to ask the neighbors for help?) Elisha blessed what little oil she had and the oil miraculously continued to pour until all the jars were full. She was able to pay off all her debt and keep her sons.

What’s in your house?

How can you go in the strength you have to bless others?

In my realm of a stay-at-home-mom, I have the margin of time and rest in my day. This week, God found me faithful packing lunches for my friend and me. In my house, I already had all the fixings for Meg’s favorite snacks and lunch. Going in the strength I had, God found me faithful as I drove my friend to her chemotherapy infusion. We enjoyed our day together as we laughed, cupped mugs of piping hot Starbucks, and shared stories of God’s faithfulness.

Reflecting on the stories of Gideon and the widow woman, ask yourself:

How can you use what you already have to bless others?

What is God calling you to do?

~April Dawn White ©2018

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How to Expose Shadowed JOY

Shadowed JOYIn less time than it took to prepare the morning coffee, the sun’s light traveled 92.96 million miles in eight minutes and twenty seconds. When I returned to my red chair, my favorite spot of reading and conversation with God, I noticed the early morning sunrays cast long shadows through the window.

Darkness and long shadows obscured the hand embroidered JOY on the mini quilt. I cupped my mug of liquid mercy and watched as shadows surrounded the word JOY.  I peered with strange fascination as light and shadows danced across the 16x16-wall quilt. The sun stretched higher and the waltz changed patterns. Will the JOY be completely overshadowed by darkness? I pondered. However, what I truly wondered was if my JOY be completely overshadowed by darkness.

Will my JOY be completely overshadowed by darkness?

This mini wall quilt is one of my favorite quilting projects. Utilizing scraps from left over previous sewing projects, I pieced together this simple mini quilt and hand embroidered JOY in red to accent my favorite color.

My heart has been exceedingly heavy this week.  When the Realtor plunged the FOR SALE sign into the dry earth, I felt the sign puncture my already broken heart. I’d been expecting and preparing for this day for over six months, but nothing could prepare me for the surge of emotions.  I thanked the Realtor, walked into the house, threw myself on my son’s bed and wailed.

 

JOY. Sometimes darkness casts long shadows in an attempt to hide our joy, but God’s light and our praise helps to expose JOY! - April White Click To Tweet

“Worship like the things you’ve been believing God for are on the other side of your praise.”- Pastor John Gray.

 

JOYMy heart is still heavy, but it is saturated in praise.  God is slowly pushing back the grief and darkness and exposing the JOY.

Dear friends, is something shadowing your joy? I pray for Christ to give you the strength to hold on and praise Him, while He pushes back the darkness to expose your joy.

Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.”(Nehemiah 8:10)

Blessings to you,

~April Dawn White

*All Scripture is NIV from Bible Gateway.  *Images courtesy of author.

© 2016 April Dawn White, All rights reserved

Personal Declarations and Self-Encouragement

alarm-clock-pixabayDoes your morning routine include encouraging yourself? We each have a morning routine and today I will share with you a glimpse into mine. Before my feet hit the floor, I recite this personal declaration and prayer:

 

Lord, I love you.

Lord, I trust you.

Lord, I trust your plan.

Lord, I trust your provision.

Lord, I trust your unfailing Sovereign timing.

Amen.

 

When my heart is  heavy with discouragement I encourage myself by reciting these truths aloud:

Lord, you are a good, good Father.

Lord, I am loved by you.

You are faithful and able to complete to good work you started in me.

You have chosen me and will not reject me.

You call me by name.

You are jealous for me.

I am yours Lord, now do as you promised.

Amen.

God does not have grandchildren. Some things you need to learn for yourself. Click To Tweet

Going Deeper

My personal declarations and self-encouragement truths are directly from Scripture. I encourage you today to dig a little deeper and read these passages:

Proverbs 3:5-6Do as you Promised Verse

Psalm 143:8

Genesis 22 (emphasis on verses 13-14)

Jeremiah 29:11

Lamentations 3:25-26

Philippians 1:6

Isaiah 41:9-10

Isaiah 43:1

Exodus 34:14

1 Chronicles 17:23

Years ago, I was thrilled to watch my favorite woman of God, Priscilla Shirer speak at Thomas Road Baptist Church. From the third row, I clearly recall her saying, “God does not have grandchildren, only children. Some things you need to learn for yourself.”

TRUST with bench 2016I challenge you seek God’s Word for yourself and create your own personal declarations. We all have bad days which is why it’s crucial to encourage one another daily. But, sometimes we need to encourage our self in the Lord.

~April Dawn White

*All Scripture is NIV from Bible Gateway.

*Images courtesy of author and Pixabay.

© 2016 April Dawn White, All rights reserved

Eat Cake: Remembering & Celebrating Answered Prayers

Celebrate “I will remember the deeds of the Lord; yes, I will remember your miracles of long ago.” (Psalm 77:11)

Cheerful sunflowers in decorated Mason jars serve as the centerpiece for today’s anniversary dinner.  A chocolate cake with homemade peanut butter frosting begs my attention.  I scrape the side of the baking dish, and savor the flavor.

Four years ago, I prayed a big audacious impossible prayer. Four year ago today, God answered that prayer.  Today is my day to celebrate this monumental occasion with my God, a special day just between him and me.

I am anxiously awaiting my family to return home from school and soccer practice so we can dive into dinner and this cake!

 “This is the day which the Lord hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.” (Psalm 118:24, KJV)Celebrate Eat Cake

As Christ followers, we celebrate the obvious holidays such as Christmas and Easter. Do we remember to celebrate the personal days of answered prayers? August 23rd is my own personal day of celebration. Today is a day to celebrate! Today is a day to eat cake!

How do you celebrate the anniversaries of answered prayers? Do you have a special date that you celebrate? If so please share.

~April Dawn White

* All Scripture is NIV from Bible Gateway unless otherwise noted. *Images courtesy of author.

© 2016 April Dawn White, All rights reserved

 

Buoyant Joy

Bass boat Smith Mountain Lake“Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.” (Hebrews 10:23)

Bass boats skim across the lake, a rooster tail of water rockets into the air. Spring yawns as petioles stretch open uncurling their true purpose. The leaves are on full display today narrowing my view of the main channel. In the center of my view, a “No Wake” buoy bobs as the bass boats disturb its quiet resting place.

This buoyant channel maker captivates my attention. It never sinks. Waves toss the buoy to and fro kissing the water, always returning to its upright position.sunset water buoy Pixabay

“Joy is not mere happiness. Nor does joy spring from a life of ease, comfort, or peaceful circumstances. Joy is the soul’s buoyant response to a God of promise, presence, and power.”–Susan Lenzkes

Buoy: noun/  a floating object anchored in water to mark something (as a channel)

Buoy: verb/ to mark by a buoy, to keep afloat, to raise the spirits of

Buoyancy: noun/ the power of a fluid to exert an upward force on a body placed in it, resilience of spirit.

Buoyant joy is a by-product of resilient faith. Click To Tweet

It does not guarantee the absence of a storm; rather it guarantees the ability to bounce back.

A buoy is anchored in water with the purpose of marking the main channel. Our faith and joy are anchored to His living water.  We serve as channel markers, guiding those in the midst of the storm to stay on course, encouraging others as we bob along.

Even though thick fog impedes my future, I know the One to whom I’m anchored. Knowing I will bounce back because He is the God over the storm assufog dock Pixabayres me “It is well with my soul.”

~April Dawn White

*All Scripture is NIV from Bible Gateway. *Images courtesy of author or Pixabay.

© 2016 April Dawn White, All rights reserved

Joy is the Serious Business of Heaven

daisies-Joy is the serious buisnes of heaven quoteThe word joy is found in the Scriptures two hundred and forty two times! C.S. Lewis was correct when he stated, “JOY is the serious business of heaven.” 

James writes, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt.” (James 1:2-8, NIV)

Facing trials and suffering is serious business!  Scripture reminds us to consider it pure joy, because our faith will produce perseverance, maturity, and wisdom. I’m not sugar coating circumstances, it’s hard. But on those days when choosing to see the joy amidst the pain seems impossible, dig in and find joy.

Today, I found joy in the this photograph of daisies, my favorite flower. It reminds me that not all seasons will be dreary and “joy comes in the morning” (Psalm 30:5).

~April Dawn White

This image is my Freebie Friday gift to you. Feel free to download, print, and share this image on your blog or social media. Please keep the image intake with my website watermark visible.

Photo courtesy of Pixabay

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